Q&A Author Interview
Can you tell us a little about yourself and background?
I am currently a part-time IT consultant to education, and a part-time writer. I haven't yet committed to full-time writing because the IT work pays the bill; although getting up in the morning and thinking about nothing other than writing sounds like a great way to spend the day.
I am married, live in Peterborough, UK, and until December last worked as an IT network manager. I come from the east end of London, and grew up in some rough neighbourhoods, where you learned pretty early in life how to swim rather than sink.
I play guitar and sing, and used to also play bass, drums and a little keyboards. I write my own songs, and have been in a few bands. I love listening to music and am a big fan of 70s and 80s music, especially AOR stuff. I support Chelsea FC, and have done since I was eight, and I really enjoy rugby union. When I was younger (and fitter…and leaner) I ran the 100 yards/metres and did long jump at County level, and I also did a bit of boxing and karate. What with my football, no day passed without my being involved in something sport-related.
When did you know that you wanted to become a writer? and how did you go about it?
I knew I wanted to write when I was just a kid. I started off writing short stories. My early influences were fantasy books (big favourites were The Man Who Was Magic and The Weirdstone of Brisingamen), so my stories naturally gravitated towards that genre. This turned to dark fantasy and then later on, to horror. I completed many dozens of these before believing I was any good. Then I sent one off for a competition, which I won. That led to publication by Pan books, followed by three more publications. I moved on to novels quite late in life I suppose. I came very close to bagging a publisher and then an agent, but not quite close enough. At the back end of 2016, knowing I was going to write more, I decided to self-publish, but then Bloodhound Books came along and signed me up, which was an enormous thrill.
Can you tell us what genre your books are and the audience you write for?
Hmm. Well, I'm firmly in the psychological/crime/mystery/thriller genre, and I tend to drift between them. Bad to the Bone is a crime thriller leaning towards the procedural. I have another book due later this year, Degrees of Darkness, which is on the darker side of psychological crime thrillers. I have also completed the first draft of a fast-paced chase thriller.
What is your writing process? and how long does it take?
It's only recently that I have been able to devote more time to my writing. Prior to that I wrote as and when I could squeeze it in. Now, on my writing days, I am at the computer by around 8.00am, I break for lunch, and then get stuck back into it for another couple of hours. If I have a process it is to write down a very basic storyline, and then get stuck into the first draft. I write about half a dozen chapters and then go back, take a look at the structure, do some editing, and often this leads me to introduce other chapters and even characters. I then do the same for another few chapters until the first part of the book is in place and, moreover, inside my head. Then I rattle through the rest of the book until that first draft is done. This is then set aside for an unspecified amount of time while I start the process all over again for something new. I usually have two or three ideas in my head until one takes over. The process is a little different for my current WIP, as this is my contracted follow up to Bad to the Bone, so whilst I have other ideas in my head, this is the one I need to write now.
Are your characters based on anyone you know or are they just fictional?
I use the names of people I know or have met all the time. As for the characters, well of course there's a lot of me in them. Family members see it much more than I do, so I'm clearly not aware of it as I write. Often I form an amalgam of people into a single character. I haven't written a character who is a complete rip-off of someone I know. The abducted daughter in Degrees of Darkness was based on my own daughter, and she still sends her therapy bills to me.
Have you wrote about a personal experience in your novels?
One or two incidents, yes. But there are some awful crimes and murders taking place in my books, and as far as I am aware I have not committed any – although there were those blackouts in 1995… There is one personal experience that does make Bad to the Bone, however: its lead character, DI James Bliss, is diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. That's something I know about well, as I was diagnosed with the condition around 15 years ago, and still live with it.
What research do you do?
Whilst these are works of fiction, I like to be as accurate as I can be. I have spoken to taxidermists, and I have liaised with both the Met and the NCA press offices to make sure I get as much right as I possibly can. Also, how on earth did writers manage without the Internet as a research tool??? Contacting the NCA actually prevented me from making a massive error with the very premise of my most recent book. That could have been terribly embarrassing.
Who would you like to co-write with and why?
Michael Connelly - hands down my favourite crime writer; I would just love to learn from the best.
What's your favourite book?
The Silence of the Lambs – it blew me away unlike any other book I have read before or since. Not just the premise, not just the characters, but also the razor-sharp writing.
What's your favourite food?
My favourite dinner is my wife's take on wienerschnitzel, her Sunday roast, or a nice ruby.
What's your favourite film?
The Shawshank Redemption, based on the Stephen King novella.
What's your favourite song?
This is a really tough one. It changes depending on my mood. Currently it's Five Friendly Aliens by Danny Wilson.
How can readers find out more information about yourself and your books?
I have my own website: tonyjforder.com
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tony-J-Forder/e/B01N4BPT65